Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications

Blogging

Learn how to write your blog

So many people don’t ever get their blogs off the ground because of various fears: fear of not knowing what to write, fear of not having enough content, fear of writing itself. Well, you can conquer those fears by attending my “How to write your blog” workshop. I cover what you should write about, how to come up with ideas and inspiration and getting the blog post written.

The next blogging workshop will take place on Friday, May 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. This time, I am traveling across  state lines to Virginia to hold the workshop at Link Locale, a co-working space in Clarendon.  Also new this time is that I am offering an discounted price for early registration of $70 if you register by May 1. After that, the price goes up to $79.

More details and registration are available at the Eventbrite page.

Hope to see you there!

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

All I learned about WordPress I learned at camp

This blog is hosted on a website built on WordPress. Lots of blogs, and many websites, are built using WordPress because it is easy to use and easy to customize. Because WordPress makes it so easy to update your content, there are more organizations using WordPress as a content management system (CMS). If you use software such as Dreamweaver to build a website, you probably have to call your “web person” to ask him/her to make updates.

WordPress has built quite a large community of users and developers, many of whom have regular meet ups and discussion groups. A very popular (and fun) way to get a large group of WordPress enthusiasts together is WordPress “camp.” These camps happen year round in cities worldwide. All are volunteer run.

This past weekend I attended Word Camp Philadelphia, and last month I went to Word Camp in Baltimore. I am trying to learn all I can about WordPress since I don’t have an IT department or anybody handling my website (which is a long story).

I learned a lot at Word Camp Philadelphia (and kudos to the organizers who made this volunteer run event run smoothly and professionally). Here are some main takeaways:

 Make security a priority

All websites are vulnerable to hacking. There are several steps you can take to minimize the risk. Among them:

  •             Do not use admin as your log on name
  •             Have a strong password
  •             Always update to the newest version of WordPress
  •             Be sure your plugins are compatible and updated

Backup often

We heard this time and time again—make your back ups happen automatically. There are many plugins (free and paid) that make this easy. The one mentioned by many presenters was BackupBuddy.

 Plugins are cool

Plugins are little programs that add functionality to your WordPress site. There are thousands of plugins available for download from WordPress.org, providing the ability to share posts, create backups, and add lots of bells and whistles. You should keep plugins updated, and you should remove any you aren’t using. Too many plugins can slow a website down, and create issues.

A few that were mentioned repeatedly were:

  • All in One SEO pack
  • AntispamBee
  • Akismet
  • Yet Another Related Post (YARPP) (running on this site)
  • Digg Digg (for social sharing)

 Content is crucial

If you don’t have interesting and relevant content on your blog/website, why would anybody want to visit? Keep in mind that people don’t like to read long chunks of text (as Jess Ostroff from Don’t Panic Management put it: TL;DR, which stands for too long; didn’t read). Also, to avoid long uninterrupted text is why we break up content using headings, bullets and images. To organize your content, you should use some sort of content management system. Jess Ostroff recommended DivvyHQ.com (paid) or the WordPress Editorial Calendar (free).

 Websites should be accessible

There is such a thing as making your website “handicapped accessible.” For example,  blind people use web readers to visit websites. If you have images on your website, you should make sure to add alt text  so that these readers can include a description of these images.

Another type of accessibility is for mobile devices. The newest version of the simple WordPress theme (Twenty Twelve) adjusts the dimensions of your website to make it fit to a mobile phone screen.

 WordPress: it’s not just for blogging anymore!

The most important takeaway is that WordPress is not just for blogging. Large organizations have already migrated their websites to a WordPress platform.

Go to camp  already!

If you are interested in learning more about WordPress, I highly recommend going to Word Camp. However, not all camps are created equal and it may be worth it to travel to a camp that is well organized.

 

 

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

My newest web venture

It’s kind of funny. I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, and last night I went to a WNBA event here in Washington (not a basketball game but an event sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association). The event was about book publicity and basically, the big conclusion of the evening was that to publicize a book today you must be on the web. You must have a website, or a blog, or both, or even just a MySpace page. Something on the WWW. Of course, that is just the start, because you have to get people to read your stuff too. 

That got me to thinking about my area of so-called expertise, marketing communications.  Specifically, I am thinking about traditional marketing communications tools such as brochures and press releases. Are these necessary anymore, or will they become as obsolete as Windows 98?  The answer I think is yes, eventually. Today, there is  still a market that is not tech savvy. There are people who enjoy print. Eventually those people will become obsolete, if you know what I mean.  For now, I think any savvy marcomm person needs to have a complete bag of tricks–press releases, blogs, websites, printed brochures, downloadable press kits, etc.  Also, there is a whole generation of marcomm people who are not comfortable in a completely electronic environment, or don’t understand how to go about it. Or they know just a little bit and are afraid to learn. Then, there are the young ‘uns, who have been on Facebook since it started and who prefer texting to talking. We are not only communicating to this generation, but we are using them to do the communicating for us (that is, we hire them as interns, account execs, copywriters or whatever). 

In a traditional marcomm agency, be it straight PR or straight advertising or a hybrid, the upper echelon (or “management”) may still be clinging to the days before email was an alternative to a phone call and videoconferencing was super cool. Webinars and podcasts are not a substitute for a good old fashioned ad or press release. And they keep doing the same old and wondering why they are losing market share. Change is always slower for an established company. But what distinguishes effective marketing in my opinion, is understanding who the target audience is and where they get their information. Thus, if we are marketing hearing aids, perhaps print (an older skewing medium) alone will do the trick. But if we are trying to expand a market, reach younger people, then we’d be foolish to expend all efforts on traditional media. 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

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